August 30, 2014

Rachael Ward

According to Douglas Adams, author of Hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy, the meaning of life is 42. If only he’d undertaken VCE, he’d realize the meaning of life is actually 99.95, or a similarly high ATAR.

Year 12 is drawing to a close for some 30,000 students around the state, many of whom are caught somewhere between adhering to strict colour-coded study tables and succumbing to the delights of binge-watching Orange is the New Black.

Everyone talks about how difficult it is to stay motivated in Term 2, but Term Three can be just as hard. With 6 months under your belt, it’s easy to think all that stands between you and a day at the beach is a few lousy exams in the next few months. Hurrah! Then you realise just HOW MUCH you have to do in THREE MONTHS and panic sets in.

1148863_554662284592922_359388007_nNever fear, you’ve got plenty of time to sort everything out and devise an exam strategy. I’ve compiled a list of things you can keep in mind ahead as you approach the ‘final stretch’:

  • Any VCE motivational speaker can tell you the key to success lies in practice exams, but the trick is to dip your toe in, and not your whole foot. Some students benefit from doing X amount of practice exams but this style of studying doesn’t suit everyone. For essay based subjects try completing at least a particular kind of question at the same time every week to get you into a routine. Science students can start to put together a book of questions you got wrong on SACs and add to this during your preparation and identify which areas need work. Language students can practice their general conversation skills at local conversation classes or with their classmates at lunch, focusing on VCAA areas of study.
  • Assessor’s reports really are a gold mines, as many include nifty ‘what not to do’ guidelines and examples of good work from previous years.
  • Summarising the day’s content and revising these summaries takes less time than you think, and takes the pressure off when you’re looking for key points a few weeks down the track.
  • In humanity subjects, learning one quote a week from an expert you need to quote in the end of year exams is such an easy way to seem smart in exams-trying to learn 15 quotes days before the exam just doesn’t work.
  • In the next few months your full time job is to study, which means life does sadly revolve around exams. Partying, sleeping in and the Internet will all be there after you finish your final exam, but the opportunity to do as well as you can in Year 12 will not come again.
  • Make sure you’re getting enough nutrients and physical exercise to stay a happy little vegemite in the days ahead. My great grandmother swore eating the night before an exam is the key to success, but for you to be able to perform at your best for the duration of SWOTVAC you need to be healthy long before that. Don’t forget to have breakfast on the day of exams-food is good for the brain as well.
  • The future might seem scary and VTAC preferences and offers aren’t the be all and end all, but they are something you need to keep in mind well before the paperwork is due. The day before preferences were due last year, a close friend still hadn’t decided whether she’d a science or humanities path. I hear it was a long and tear-filled night deciding what to do. Remember picking the right course is really all about what YOU want to do in your career. Picking a science course when your heart is in humanities isn’t likely to lead to a career you will enjoy.
  • If you’re luck like I was, it’s the one time in life your family will tip toe around you for fear of provoking the angry VCE beast. Milk this for all it’s worth.

All of that said, the meaning of life isn’t 42, 99.95 or any other number. The wonderful thing about the time ahead of you is that you get to discover just what that is (and isn’t) for you.

 – Rachael Ward

Photos Amy Steele

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